& a lesson in manhood: over-reaching

Lessons in Manhood

Lesson 6: Responsibility

Squatch, I haven’t done one of these in a while. It’s not because I’m done with the lessons, but for another reason entirely that I’m going to discuss. This definitely has a chance to fall into “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” territory.

One of the things I’ll be teaching you your whole life is responsibility. It’s one of those lessons that you’re never done teaching, and for some people, it just takes a while to sink in. So you’ll learn—from me and from others—all kinds of things about responsibility. That responsibility means a Man takes the blame for his poor actions and shares the credit for his accomplishments. That responsibility means a Man takes care of the consequences, good and bad, of his actions. That responsibility means a Man understands what is required of him in life and steps up to fulfill those obligations. That responsibility means when a Man gives his word, he follows through on that promise and doesn’t renege.

And it’s this last one that I want to talk to you about today, Squatch, because there’s an underrepresented addendum to that part which most people don’t seem to address. A Man needs to follow through on his commitments, of course, but a side note to this is that a Man also needs to understand his limitations and not take on more commitments than he can follow through with. This, sadly, is where your dad is more man than Man, Squatch.

This area has always been one area where I’ve struggled quite a bit. And you’ll probably be surprised to learn it’s because your dad has trouble saying “No” to other people. I know, it seems like that’s the only word I know how to say around you sometimes, but when other people ask me for favors, or to help out with something I know how to do, or when something enjoyable comes along, I have a hard time telling people that I can’t do it. I just add it to my list of things to do and pack my schedule tighter.

There’s a few problems with this, Squatch. First, you end up placing an unfair burden on yourself when you overcommit. You make it harder for you to prioritize your schedule and you end up feeling overwhelmed until whatever commitment you made is completed. Or until you add more commitments. Your stress level gets ratcheted up and you’re not a pleasant person to be around. Your family definitely won’t appreciate it. And, of course, when I say “you,” I mean “I.”

Second, everything you’ve committed to starts to suffer. You’re not doing anyone a service by only being able to give half your attention or half your effort to things because your focus is split in so many different directions. Nothing ends up going as well as it could, and the people you committed to help out might have been better off without you in the first place.

Third, you squeeze out all the “you” time. In saying you’ll help out this person and that person and that person with their things, you’re making it so your stuff has to take a back seat. You don’t get to spend as much time preparing for your classes or grading papers. You don’t get to update your blog. You don’t get to write. You don’t get to spend quality time with your family. That’s definitely no good for you.

A Man knows when to say “No” in order to not overcommit himself. It’s such a simple word, but it’s something your dad is working on, Squatch. That’s why he says it so much to you. It’s practice.


7 thoughts on “& a lesson in manhood: over-reaching

  1. You are going to be the best Dad. If I could, I’d go back in time, send Name Redacted over to your house for some Dad/Man lessons, and, maybe he’d have learned something.

    My handshake is my word–don’t say yours is, too, if you aren’t going to honor that word. That way, I’ve got a paper trail. I’d rather not have a paper trail–so much filing!!

    • We’ll see how I actually do when Squatch gets here. You can do plenty to prepare yourself, but when the shit hits the fan, you’ve still gotta figure out why your baby was shitting on a fan.

  2. So, so true. My dad was a big-time Yes Man and it drove my mom crazy for practical reasons; it’s not fun to have to talk your non-clergy spouse out of driving 30 miles to the church on Christmas Eve so he can make sure all the lights are turned off. It also made her really concerned that my brother and I would read his willingness to bend over backwards for anyone (and really, ANYONE; especially those who were completely taking advantage of him) as the only way to be a “good person.” Being a good person is all about regulating your life and finding ways to serve the important people you love while at the same time serving yourself and offering up the best possible you.

  3. i’d like to arrange a playdate between squatch and gayby once they both arrive. altho squatch may be 35 by the time gayby arrives, regardless, i know he’ll be a fine man, if you are thinking about things such as these…

    • I’m down with that. Squatch will probably need some friends who aren’t afraid of someone with a little fur or getting accidentally stepped on.

  4. Pingback: & a lesson in manhood: the two-way street « & squatch makes three

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